With a scheduled 4 AM departure to Honduras, we awoke at 3 AM (“the butt crack of dawn” per Dave) to await our scheduled 3:45 pickup. Of course the driver was a punctual Central American 45 minutes late. With a 4 hour drive ahead of us and a loud grating noise prohibiting any thoughts of sleep, a concerned Guatemalan passenger asked if the noise was normal. “Si” said the driver. Well, that made us feel warm and fuzzy all over. 15 minutes and a cell call later, the driver declared we’d have to wait for a new mini-van. An hour later and a 20 minute delay at the border, we finally made it to Copan Ruinas around noon.
The Copan ruins are a refreshingly pristine 15 minutes walk from town along a patio-styled path. Known as the premier site for surviving Mayan sculpture, a pricey US$15 (as much as our extravagantly large, TV, air-conditioned hotel room cost), gets you in. The site itself was amazing in the surviving Mayan artwork. The Hieroglyphic Stairway is the longest continuous Mayan inscription, detailing the history of the ruling “Smoke” dynasty (Smoke Monkey, Smoke Shell, Smoke Too Much…short reign there).
The next day we made for Gracias with hopes of visiting the nearby Celaque National park. Our hopes were soon dashed as we realized the small town had made no strides in the tourist industry in the 5 years since our guide book was written. The way to the park was not easy and the way back was not guaranteed. Since Cynthia’s time was limited, she decided to make the most of Gracias by getting her hair cut…in a power outage. Warren thought she was crazy, but what else is new. She was very proud to have made the hairdresser laugh after telling her a funny in Spanish. Cynthia claims it was the best $1.90 haircut she’d ever gotten.
Rising at 4AM to catch a 5AM bus (mini-van as it turns out – so be sure to make a mad dash for any vehicle for which other people are making a mad dash) to La Esperanza we continued on an overbooked big bus (we alternated sitting) to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Ok, we’d like to be kind…but can’t. What a pit. People peeing in the street, the smell of sewage everywhere with the river bisecting the city being the strongest – we never could find a location that was NOT down wind. But we came with three objectives: do laundry, finish some web site work, and get the hell out. The last proved challenging because there is virtually no tourist information in the city and the zillion destinations-unmarked buses, vying for passengers, change routes to suit.
Finding a reference to the US Embassy as a point for travel information, we decided to put our tax dollars to work. Arriving at the embassy in a sweat-stained baseball cap, torn shirt, dirty tank top, grubby pants, and backpacks that have seen better days we waited in the security area as the guard dialed a number and handed the phone to Cynthia. “Hi. We’re American citizens and we need some travel assistance to leave Honduras for Nicaragua. We are at gate one.” A militant voice on the other end responded, “Yes I can see you. [Cynthia gleefully waves in several directions]…Do you work here?” Ok, he can see us, so either not the brightest bulb or business casual means something completely different here. “Uhm, no.” More slowly now, Cynthia repeats, “ We’re American citizens and we need some travel assistance to leave Honduras for Nicaragua. We are at gate one.” After surrendering all electronic devices, we were admitted and a very helpful woman called the long distance bus companies and provided us all the information we needed.
We ended our last day in Tegucigalpa with an impressive meal at King Wa. Ordering the “Chap Suey” and fried rice, we discovered that four slices of white bread is considered an appetizer and for less than $3 you can feed a family of 4 on one meal. The picture (which is AFTER we’d eaten our fill) says it all….fortunately, they provide doggie bags (for a small fee).
Next stop Nicaragua.
For more pictures, check out the gallery on the Honduras…